18 AUGUST 1855, Page 15


OrrEstnis than once we have noticed the defect in our official orga- nization which causes efficient public servants to be shelved, while it occasions the employment of men upon business for which they are not completely fitted. Not long since, we saw a gentleman re- tire from a post to which confessedly his genius was not suited : it is gratifying to observe that he has been rescued by the apprecia- tion of a friend from the loss to which he was exposed ; but why first pension him into an active public office, and then leave him to friendly aid ? A correspondent calls our attention to the case of a gentleman who possesses capacities which have been rendered very useful for the public, but who has been laid on the shelf as a con- sequence of certain comprehensive alterations in his department. When the Health Board was reorganized, the post which Dr. South- wood Smith occupied was subject to the general modifications. Mr. Chadwick was pensioned off; for a time the undoubted services of Dr. Southwood Smith had no acknowledgment : that gentleman has subsequently received a small pension, a very inadequate recogni- tion of his deserts; while the public obtains no return whatever.

It would seem as if the Administrative Reformers, in office as well as out of office, could hit upon no idea more suited to the public requirements than that of giving men posts in set depart- ments. Yet- the Army affords the example of a different rule, which would in many respects apply. Certainly we require medi- cal advisers, not only for the diseases of individuals, but for the proper conduct of the public administration. Medical knowledge applied to administrative business might have prevented our forces from being sent to unhealthy lodging-places ; but medical men connected with the Army are trained to taking too narrow a view of their duties, and cannot be expected to rise to the position of imperial ministers. There will most likely be a constant endea- your gradually to do away with the practice of quarantine, which we have so greatly relaxed; but the transition would be facilitated, and many inconveniences of the transition state might be spared, if a competent medical adviser assisted in superintending the change. Quarantine itself is absurd ; yet nothing perhaps is more strictly necessary than a medical superintendence of ports and ships outgoing and incoming. Health-officers there are, but it must be confessed that the central administration over this entire class of officials requires to be strengthened. _Anil even if there were no specific duties manifestly remaining without public servants to perform them, the supreme administration must necessarily require assistance from competent medical counsel. We see no reason why officers "unattached" should not be employed on the civil side as well as the military. At all events, we are convinced that there are duties which require attention, which will require yet increased attention as time advances, and which Dr. Southwood Smith is peculiarly fitted to execute. His career has been profes- sional, but not exclusively professional. He began life in a vo- pillion calculated to enlarge the view, and he proved his capacity of surveying as a whole the physical laws which govern the world. Medical studies gave definite and practical aim to this general phi- losophy; and the turn of his active mind led him to investigate fevers, endemics, and the nature of the sanitary regulations calcu- Wed to protect communities and individuals against morbific in- fluences, natural or artificial. By his earnestness, and by his be- ing in the right, he was able to take a lead in forcing a sanitary policy upon Government. He became a Health Minister by his merits ; he was hustled out of place by accidents which he had little part and no active part in originating. Yet the duties of a Medical Minister he is specially fitted to fulfil. Why, then, is he a pensioner on a paltry pittance, which is a clear loss to the public, while he might be an active servant at a fitting salary ?